Alibaba and Intime announced that they have partnered each other to beef up the online shopping experience on Alibaba by connecting to Intime’s physical stores and membership system.  To this extent, Alibaba has agreed to invest about $692 million in Intime.  This will essentially give Alibaba a presence in the physical world.  At the end of 2013, Intime operated 36 stores, including 28 department stores and eight shopping centers.

The partnership means, for example, that Alibaba’s Tmall will have access to Intime’s offline inventory product database, bringing in a wider selection of international brands, as well as fulfilling online orders from Intime’s physical stores.

For Intime customers, they can receive targeted promotions and membership benefits by connecting their smartphones via Wi-Fi and location-based technology in Intime stores.  They will also be able to use virtual pre-paid cards in department stores and pay via their smartphones through the Alipay mobile wallet.